Heavy Fire: Red Shadow is a arcade-style first-person shooter that allows the player to experience battling on the front lines. This game gave off similar vibes to House Of The Dead and Time Crisis which are games I completely adore, so playing this game brought back some of that love for classic arcade shooters. Fighting off waves of enemies is always a fun experience in a game and Heavy Fire: Red Shadow nails the fun aspect without a doubt.
The first thing Heavy Fire: Red Shadow does is show players the backstory, filling the player in on what has happened leading up to the first mission. This comes via multiple narrated cut-scenes, which—for an army game—are done very well. Mixed with real life videos and gaming assets, everything is explained in a simple way, despite the information being slightly confusing. The use of this narration is also very present in the gameplay. This was needed for me, as it offers hints to what needs to be done in the level.
During the gameplay many things happen, some obvious and some not so obvious. The most enjoyable and noticeable thing being that the goal is to kill waves of enemies. This itself is self-explanatory, however there are other aspects that seem somewhat unnecessary. The challenges, for example, seem to come and go so quickly that they seem forced on the player, and there seems to be very little achievement in actually completing them. This was a bit disappointing for me as I feel the game needs as many choices it can have, because it is a wave based game.
The controls for the game are very easy to understand and use. I’m certain people who are not used to gaming could easily pick up the controller and jump into the action, as most of the game just uses the two thumbsticks and the shoot button. There is also a very helpful picture of the control layout on the pause menu, as well as some settings such as zoom toggle, cross-hair color and look sensitivity that can be changed via the options menu. Having such a small feature as the cross hair color is important to this game as it allows the player to personalize their experience a little more. I know I had a lot more fun just because my cross-hair was my favorite color.
The graphics of this game are sadly one of the things that let it down. While it is a game that focuses heavily on gameplay, I feel more focus could of been put on the environments. Most are dull and become somewhat hard to focus on over the long periods of play that the waves of enemies require, and the enemies themselves have no distinguishable features apart from their colours. Killing the same enemies over and over can be somewhat tiresome so I’d have loved to see more of a range in enemy design and environment design.
The controls for the game are very easy to understand and use. I’m certain that people who are not use to gaming could easily pick up the controller and jump into the action, as most of the game just uses the two thumbsticks and the shoot button.
The game features a skill system in which players can unlock upgrades and skills via leveling up. Each time I leveled up I gained one skill point to spend in the skills section. This allowed me to progress faster in the game and also added more thought to how I play. Aspects such as increasing the players health, improving stability during fire, reloading the rocket launcher twice as fast and deploying two supply crates from drop ships heavily impact how the game plays, so I was glad to see this included as I feel that some thought-based gameplay was needed to this look and gun-style shooter.
The difficulty of the game like most games is dependent on how experienced the player is at gaming. Although new players can jump into the game and understand it, they may still have a tough time later on against some of the fast paced action. Using the skills to upgrade my player I was able to stay on track and keep the game easy for myself, however without using such skill upgrades the game would quickly become hard to beat. I also played on a higher sensitivity as it made the game a lot easier.
One feature of this game that made me happy to see was the radar feature. Initially I mistook the radar for part of the cross-hair, however once I realized that it was a way to locate enemies, it helped me drastically. The design on the radar is completely hit and miss, as it is easy to use and simple to understand once it has been noticed, however It personally took me over an hour before I noticed it was there, so perhaps its design was a little too similar to the rest of the UI.
One of the biggest issues I had with this game is how long it was. While usually for any game having a longer story or gameplay time is better, I feel that this game didn’t need to be as dragged out. Each level is extremely long and got somewhat repetitive very fast. I feel that a bigger range of environments with shorter level time would have been more beneficial than the given amount of environments having such a large amount of stages and waves.
In summary I’d say Heavy Fire: Red Shadow captures the feel of a arcade-style first-person shooter very well. The game adds some features that work and some that don’t work, but overall the positive additions out-way the negative ones. I enjoyed playing this game and I can see myself playing it in short bursts again in the future, however I wouldn’t say it’s a game to sit down and play for hours. The game sets itself up well with the cut-scenes and backstory, while also doing an amazing job at keeping the progression and difficulty levels fair throughout the game. The graphics and level design could have differed a little more per level and been a bit more appealing to the eye, however this being a war based game, the dull look isn’t a complete negative.
Heavy Fire: Red Shadow is available on Playstation 4, Playstation VR, and Xbox One.
Thanks to Mastiff for providing us a digital review copy of Heavy Fire: Red Shadow on Playstation 4.